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My Lockdown aka Equalisers Baby!!


tripitaka
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I thought I’d report back to the good members of Stereo.Net on the outcome of my Great Victorian Lockdown experience.

? ? ?

 

Now I think that, for a lot of people, it makes some sense to cap hifi expenditure at a point (let’s say $15-20K RRP, tho YMMD), where the noise/distortion levels are low enough that the musical presentation style becomes the predominant concern.

 

And therein lies the problem, the audiophile can end up being completely at the mercy of the world’s sound engineers, who generally have quite differently priorities than the poor old under-represented audiophile.

 

To illustrate, I like a bit of treble ‘zing & sparkle’ in my musical presentation for jazz and soloist stuff, then if I play an 80’s rock song I can tell the mastering was done to ensure the highs ‘cut through’ the mix while the listener enjoys it on their car radio (cassette player).. at 60km/hr.. with the windows wound down.  In the past, this has created a dissonance where I end up trawling through forum reviews, wondering which hifi component to replace next. 

 

Enter the “3 Sad bastards’ (excellent) podcasts, where in one episode they discussed equalisation, like it wasn’t an evil thing.  With plenty of Lockdown time on my hands, I decided to look further.  Being too lazy to set up a digital EQ engine, I decided to do it the old-fashioned way and bought a 31-band graphic.  Now, I understand the benefits of parametric (Q setting) but for the tiny cuts I had in mind, centered on the sibilance range, graphic equalisers would serve the purpose nicely.

 

Anyway, the real beauty of these things is that they can be bypassed by the mere press of a front panel button.  Furthermore, the model I have has another button which doubles the depth of the cuts.  This gives me 3 selectable options, of which, I try to listen in bypass mode as much of the time as possible.

 

The result is that whenever I now play a track where the highs are awful or the sibilance startling, I know I have the power to solve it at the press of a button. 

 

And here is the kicker:  Since I am now ‘in command’, sometimes when the highs are too sharp I tell that sound engineer what I think of his work, but find myself just a little too lazy to move 3 meters to press the button since it is so much easier to bear, knowing that I AM NO LONGER A VICTIM. ?

 

Thanks for reading  ?

 

 

DB40AD1A-7E3B-4907-8693-07AF7A6326D3.jpeg

Edited by tripitaka
photographic evidence added ?
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/\

 

Yep that is a pro unit (Yamaha) but is pretty sensitive as far as pro stuff goes, with the slider range a mere +/- 6dB

(selectible to 12dB from the front panel)

 

I learned that pro gear tends to be noisier than the high priced stuff which audiophiles buy, so it needed to be placed in the audio chain with an understanding of gain structure, for which there is an excellent thread on this very forum  ?

Edited by tripitaka
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I also first experimented with an old home stereo yammie GE3, which seemed pretty good from a noise point of view, it also had bypass.

Those can be found for only 50 bucks, basically a bottle of decent wine or an inferior whisky, amazing.

 

However, it was only 10 band, so FOMO dictated that I had to spend more money ?

 

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4 hours ago, tripitaka said:

I ... bought a 31-band graphic.  Now, I understand the benefits of parametric (Q setting) but for the tiny cuts I had in mind, centered on the sibilance range, graphic equalisers would serve the purpose nicely....

I would have thought a parametric would have been quite suitable for small cuts in a particular frequency range.  And they would also have the "bypass" mode as well to switch the eq in/out at will. 

 

However, that doesn't matter if you are happy with your graphic.  It looks great, as well.  I can empathise with your frustration.  I often find it when listening to CDs of old 78's - I find that there are many times when a small range of vocal frequencies are greatly emphasised (probably due to resonances in the original recording/mastering system).  I don't understand why the CD mastering engineers can't hear it and tame it. 

 

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9 minutes ago, audiofeline said:

I would have thought a parametric would have been quite suitable for small cuts in a particular frequency range.  And they would also have the "bypass" mode as well to switch the eq in/out at will. 

 

However, that doesn't matter if you are happy with your graphic.  It looks great, as well.  I can empathise with your frustration.  I often find it when listening to CDs of old 78's - I find that there are many times when a small range of vocal frequencies are greatly emphasised (probably due to resonances in the original recording/mastering system).  I don't understand why the CD mastering engineers can't hear it and tame it. 

 

Cheers Audiofeline!

And your comments parametric EQ are spot on, clumsy wording on my part, I should have expressed it as having 'figured I could get away without adjustible Q'... since I wasn't chasing down live mic feedback (for example).  More tellingly, all the parametric options I looked at had worse SN specs (maybe just inadequate research on my part).

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I think it's a case of there being high quality parametic eq's around, and others with less impressive specs.

Just like it appears that you have a high quality graphic, and we are all well-aware there are apalling-quality graphic eq's that were sold with 1980's systems more as a fashion accessory than something usable. 

 

Which reminds me how when I come across stereo systems with a graphic they are usually set up very poorly.  An example is my father in law, who has a 6-band graphic in his stereo, which he insists on having "smiley-face".  I've explained and demonstrated to him many times how the system sounds much better with it set flat, but he can't be told.  There was one occasion when he bought a classical cd which had originated from historic 78 recordings. 

 

One time he was very angry with how horrible the recordings sounded and was going to return it to the retailer with a piece of his mind.  I calmly went to his eq and set it to flat, and he was astonished how it sounded reasonable.  On further listening a very slightly "frown" eq curve made it sound even better (ie, the opposite of smiley with the high and lows reduced).  My father-in-law was astounded at how good this "atrocious-sounding" CD was.  I then demonstrated (again) how having the eq set flat was better for well-recorded (ie, modern) CD recordings, which he agreed.  However, the next time I visited the eq was back to the smiley-face. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, audiofeline said:

 

Which reminds me how when I come across stereo systems with a graphic they are usually set up very poorly.  An example is my father in law, who has a 6-band graphic in his stereo, which he insists on having "smiley-face".  I've explained and demonstrated to him many times how the system sounds much better with it set flat, but he can't be told.  There was one occasion when he bought a classical cd which had originated from historic 78 recordings. 

 

One time he was very angry with how horrible the recordings sounded and was going to return it to the retailer with a piece of his mind.  I calmly went to his eq and set it to flat, and he was astonished how it sounded reasonable.  On further listening a very slightly "frown" eq curve made it sound even better (ie, the opposite of smiley with the high and lows reduced).  My father-in-law was astounded at how good this "atrocious-sounding" CD was.  I then demonstrated (again) how having the eq set flat was better for well-recorded (ie, modern) CD recordings, which he agreed.  However, the next time I visited the eq was back to the smiley-face. 

 

 

Hopefully for you, af, his daughter has … a more flexible mindset!  xD

 

Andy

 

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2 hours ago, andyr said:

Hopefully for you, af, his daughter has … a more flexible mindset!  xD

Andy

The best of his three daughters would be happy if my hifi racks were replaced by a nice mini system and the "big ugly speakers" are replaced by smaller ones and they are pushed back into the room corners where "normal people" have them.  But she understands it's important to me, and tolerates it.  And we do largely share similar musical taste.

 

(Btw, my speakers aren't huge.  One nice thing about the hifi show is being able to show pics of large horn speakers and maggies, which reframes my speakers as not being too bad after all!). 

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7 hours ago, audiofeline said:

The best of his three daughters would be happy if my hifi racks were replaced by a nice mini system and the "big ugly speakers" are replaced by smaller ones and they are pushed back into the room corners where "normal people" have them.  But she understands it's important to me, and tolerates it.  And we do largely share similar musical taste.

 

(Btw, my speakers aren't huge.  One nice thing about the hifi show is being able to show pics of large horn speakers and maggies, which reframes my speakers as not being too bad after all!). 

that rings very true ha!!?

 

I quite often show my wife pictures of hideously huge speakers and say that I'm very interested in them, just to maintain some 'margin for error' with her tolerance of the floorstanders which I do have (and which have a little tendency to creep forward in the room) ?

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...and related to the topic, I have just noticed that the new RME dac contains a parametric equaliser (remote-controlled, if you don't mind!). This is proving to be quite a popular dac, so I can't help wondering if many are using it's EQ functionality.

 

 

Edited by tripitaka
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That is one good-looking equaliser. Glad it does the job!

I remember buying a graphic EQ many years ago, which was installed in the cardboard glovebox of my EH Holden, where yes, the music was often listened to with the windows open. I was sure it would make the music go louder. My ignorance was indeed bliss. 

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Technics SH-8020 Stereo Frequency Equalizer in the garage system. Gold FM on the radio playing Solid Rock by Goanna. Cannot do 80's hifi tech and music any better than this!

Technics garage system.jpg

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